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Kansas Film Look: Two Takeaways From OSU’s Latest Big 12 Victory

Sean Gleeson’s creativity shines through in KU win.



Oklahoma State cruised to a 31-13 victory over the Kansas Jayhawks this past weekend in Stillwater. It wasn’t an 80-plus play outing like the Cowboy offenses we saw under Mike Yurcich, but the Pokes ran 70 plays for 481 yards and looked dominant at times in this one. Below I’ll cover a couple of key takeaways from the OSU offense last Saturday.

Counter Bash

I first wrote about Sean Gleeson’s “Bash” concept during my three-part breakdown of the new OC shortly after he was hired. In the Bash, or “back away” running concept, the quarterback and the running back (or wide receiver in jet sweep motion) switch responsibilities. The QB will follow the primary run blocking, and the RB/WR will run away from the blocking around the outside.

We saw Gleeson find success with this play against Iowa State, and he went to it again this past Saturday. Against the Cyclones, the Cowboys ran the play attached to a Zone blocking scheme, as shown in the clip below.

However, this past Saturday, Gleeson added in a little wrinkle to his bash concept by running it with a Counter blocking scheme. In the Zone blocking scheme shown above, the offensive linemen are blocking specific gaps instead of a certain defender. If an O-lineman has a defender lined up in front of him, he blocks him. If he doesn’t have a defender lined up in front of him, then he steps toward the side the play is going and either helps double-team block a defender or moves to the second level.

With Counter, and more specifically here Guard/Tackle (GT) Counter, the guard and tackle pull around the backside to lead block for Spencer Sanders, while Chuba Hubbard takes off on a sweep the opposite way. In the first clip below, we see Sanders keep the ball and follow his pulling linemen for a big gain.

We again see Sanders with the keeper a little bit later in the first quarter.

Bash is an effective play for the Pokes because of Sanders’ running ability. This concept allows him to be the primary run option behind the blocking scheme. In addition, Bash keeps the defense on its toes by having a guy with speed like Hubbard on a dead sprint away from the flow of the play on a sweep. If the defense over commits to the blocking scheme side, Hubbard might be gone on the backside.

It’s nice to see Gleeson bringing some cool concepts over from Princeton, as we see Bash run by his Tiger offense below.

Building Off of Split Zone (Zone Slice and Zone Bluff)

In last week’s offensive film look after the TCU game, I touched on the Zone Slice and Zone Bluff running concepts. To recap, in the Zone Slice, the H-back will move away from the play side, opposite the offensive linemen, and block the defender on the backside. An example of this is shown in the diagram below from


With zone bluff, which is built off the play above, the H-back will bluff the slice block. By “bluff” I mean he will go around the backside defensive end, who is the Sanders read on the play below, and take the first defender on the outside. See the diagram below from for further detail.


Oklahoma State found a lot of success with these two plays against the Horned Frogs, and they went back to them again this past weekend, as you’ll see in the clip below.

Except in this game Gleeson showed a few more ways he likes to attack the defense out of these looks. In this next video, we see Cowboy Back Jelani Woods and Hubbard cross in the backfield just like they normally would on these zone runs, as Sanders fakes the handoff to Hubbard. The difference here is that instead of a Slice block or Bluffing the Slice to lead block for Sanders, Woods runs out to the flat. Sanders rolls his way and hits Woods in stride for a big gain.

Next, we again see this “Split Zone” look to start the play, meaning the Cowboy Back will block the backside defender to ensure that defender can not come crashing in a disrupt the play, but this time it’s play action. OSU quarterback Dru Brown fakes to Hubbard, rolls the opposite way, and then throws the ball back to his running back on a screen.

The Cowboys also ran some run-pass options (RPO) off of the Split Zone action discussed in the plays above. The clip below starts with similar action in the backfield. Sanders sees that there are three defensive linemen, two linebackers and two overhang defenders in or near the box. As he starts to hand the ball to Hubbard, he is watching the overhang defender to top of the screen. Watching the defender creep down towards the line of scrimmage, Sanders pulls the ball back and fires it out to wide receiver Landon Wolf who is wide open on an out route.

If that overhang defender would’ve moved out towards the flat after the snap, Sanders’ read would’ve been to hand the ball to Hubbard.

This offense has been a lot of fun to watch in recent weeks. It may look simple at times, but watching Gleeson build on top of his concepts and add in new wrinkles is really interesting and makes me really excited to see what will happen in his next gameplan.


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